Volume Five Hundred Eleven

Bubba Watson wins at Riviera.

Hittin the LinksWelcome back to another edition of Hittin’ the Links! This week we’ve got stories from all across the world.

Starting in Southern California, we’ll take a look at Bubba Watson’s win at Riviera, his 10th on Tour. We’ll also journey east to Florida, where Tiger Woods has entered another tournament, spin by Georgia where Augusta is planning a course change, and finish with a pair of tournaments in Oman and Australia.

Let’s hit the links!

Callaway Apex MB (2018) Irons Review

Rumor has it Sergio Garcia’s switch to Callaway played a role in the company’s introduction of these irons. If so… Thank you, Sergio!

Callaway Apex MB 2018 HeroWhen Callaway acquired the Ben Hogan brand all those years ago, better players were curious what would come of the Hogan designs, names, and ethos. Callaway was, at the time, producing great clubs but was seemingly focused much more on game-improvement and super-game-improveement irons, while the Hogan brand targeted primarily better players with simple, austere designs that evoked a sense of history and longevity over fanciful new technology and flash. Would Callaway use the Hogan IP to bolster their better player lineup, or did they just want the Apex name and the Hogan designs, patents, etc.?

For a few years, many feared it was the latter, as few clubs Hogan-like clubs were introduced, and even as recently as 2016 the “Apex” name was stamped onto clubs that didn’t resemble the old Hogans very closely. But, over the past several years, Callaway has seemingly boosted their stable of PGA and LPGA Tour pros. They’ve continued to introduce irons aimed at the game-improvement and super-game-improvement segments, but they’ve also strengthened their commitment to players clubs with wider releases of clubs designed for the better player.

After a series of irons like the Apex Pro and the 2014 Apex MB, the 2018 Callaway Apex MB fully returns to the Ben Hogan roots. Easily the best looking irons Callaway has released within the last decade (hey, this is my review, after all!), the Apex MB unabashedly says “I’m not giving you a ton of help, but if you can handle me, I’m going to be your new best buddy.”

Another Jailbreak: Callaway Launches Rogue

Jailbreak is back. Callaway’s Rogue drivers and fairway woods feature the technology. And the Rogue line doesn’t stop there… you can also get Rogue irons and hybrids to fill out your bag.

Bag DropBuilding on the success of its Epic line, Callaway is giving its new line of Rogue clubs an enhanced version of Jailbreak Technology in both the driver and, for the first time, the fairway woods. Plus, there are new irons and hybrids to accompany the line.

Miura ICL-601 Driving Iron Review

Miura, the mystical Japanese brand with a samurai sword-making background, has released a new driving iron with a typical Miura price tag. Is it worth a spot in your bag? Does it feel like a Miura? Read on to find out…

Miura ICL-601 HeroMiura has an almost mythical background. The company, once upon a time, forged the blades carried by Japan’s respected samurai. Nowadays, the company forges blades (and cavity backs) for players who look to defend their honor against Old Man Par rather than those who would do harm against Japanese nobility.

I still play primarily with a set of Miura Tournament Blades I reviewed back in 2011. In fact, I still carry a 3-iron in that set (it passes the modern-day “butter knife lookalike” test). The 3-iron is nice, but it doesn’t see a lot of action: it’s not the most forgiving 3-iron ever made (understatement!), and I generally only pull it from the bag when I need a 230-yard shot that won’t get up into the wind like a hybrid would.

So, when I heard about the ICL-601, I was excited to see if I might be able to replace my 3-iron with a “driving iron” style iron to offer more forgiveness and an ability to hit it from a wider variety of lies. And, of course, I was looking forward to see whether the “Miura feel” carried over into a polymer-filled, hollow-body “iron.”

Read on to see what I thought after putting it through its rigorous paces.

Review: SynLawn Synthetic Putting Greens

This isn’t your typical review, but I wanted to formalize my feelings toward a product we’ve used at our indoor training facility for years.

SynLawn LogoMany years ago, when this site was in its infancy, I wrote an article about how you could build your own 8′ x 8′ putting green relatively inexpensively. That putting green served me well for the few months before I bought my house. It was not worth moving, so I left it (with permission) for the next owner(s). For years afterward, I went without a home putting green (the carpet in my living room stimps at about 8, so it could be used in a pinch).

Then, in late 2011, we opened Golf Evolution in downtown Erie, PA. GE included a 2000 square foot putting green, and after exhaustive research, we partnered with a company called SynLawn for the putting surface.

Last winter, we finished our basement. With a competitive junior golfer in the house, I again felt the urge to build a putting green that she (and I) could use to work on our games when we couldn’t (or didn’t want to) drive the eight miles to Golf Evolution. So, I built a frame out of some 80/20 aluminum slot rails and flattened and glued down some of the remaining Wittek turf I had from years ago. It had been safely kept in good conditions, rolled up lengthwise, in the meantime.

SynLawn Closeup

The Wittek putting surface was never great. Despite flattening the carpet for weeks, random bumps would pop up. The surface was eventually glued, but bumps still appeared, and then migrated. Balls could roll over the same area and go left or right seemingly on the whims of fate, and often dramatically. The surface was hard and crunchy and even a little bit “prickly” beneath your feet (it’s our house, so we’d often putt in socks or barefoot). It was an “okay” surface – better than nothing and slightly better than our living room carpet – but it wasn’t what we wanted.

So, I ripped it off, sanded down the glue spots (probably unnecessarily), and installed some SynLawn turf. The instant we put it down, we knew we’d made the right choice.

Volume Five Hundred Ten

Tiger’s back, Day wins in SoCal, and Rory falls short.

Hittin the Links Welcome once again to this week’s Hittin’ the Links!

The PGA Tour paid a visit this week to southern California’s Torrey Pines Golf Course, where Jason Day pulled out a playoff victory over Alex Noren in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Tiger Woods also made his return this week to the Tour, posting a solid, scramble-filled T23 finish, which rocketed him up the world golf rankings. We’ll also check in on Rory McIlroy on the PGA Tour, and take note of this week’s LPGA Tour winner.

Let’s hit the links!

Snell Golf Introduces MTB Red and Black

Snell Golf broke ground with the revolutionary My Tour Ball in 2015. What can they do for an encore?

Snell 2018 MTB Red Optic YellowDean Snell, owner of the eponymous Snell Golf company, and co-creator of the original Pro V1® and TaylorMade Penta®, has already made great strides in shaking up the golf world. For years, he’s been offering premium, Tour-level, urethane-covered golf balls which sell for $31.99/doz. And that’s the most you’ll pay, as buying as few as six dozen balls at once drops the price per dozen to about $27.

Meanwhile, balls from the big names – with their big marketing and player promotion budgets – continues to rise, currently settling in at about $45.99/dozen at most retail stores.

Snell LogoDean Snell is ready to shake things up again, as he offers what customers have been clamoring for on two fronts: today, Snell Golf is announcing the release of their new generation of “MTB” (or “My Tour Ball”) line, with two balls – an MTB Red and an MTB Black – as well as the release of their first bright yellow golf ball in the MTB Red model.

Volume Five Hundred Nine

Tiger, Tiger, and More Tiger

Hittin the Links I’m sorry folks, but if you’re looking to avoid wall-to-wall Tiger Woods coverage, you’ve come to the wrong place.

We’re back after a hiatus longer than a striped Tiger Woods 2-iron now that there’s been some action in the world of golf, and as you can expect, we’ve got the Man in Red on the brain. If you haven’t heard, the G.O.A.T. came back this week for his first competitive round in nearly a year, and didn’t play too shabby in his return. Woods finished tied for ninth place, 10 shots back of champion Rickie Fowler, but did briefly hold the lead on Friday. A mediocre Saturday 75 sunk his chances at victory, but there were more positives than negatives to take away from the Hero World Challenge.

Let’s hit the links.

FlightScope Mevo Review

For just under $500, does this little machine pack a powerful punch for the price, or is it just another in a line of expensive training aids and devices?

FlightScope Mevo HeroIt sounds too good to be true.

For just under $500, you can get a pocket-sized launch monitor from an industry leader, pair it with a free app on your smart phone, and get accurate information on clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, carry yardage, and four other parameters to fine-tune your game on your own time. Indoors or out. Short game through driver.

Well, FlightScope claims to have turned this dream into a reality with the introduction of the FlightScope Mevo. Billed as a “portable multi-sport radar,” Mevo is an acronym for “Measure your numbers, Evaluate your game, Visualize your improvement, and Optimize your performance.” (It’s also, confusingly, the name of a camera.)

FlightScope Mevo with Golf Ball
Yes, that’s a regulation golf ball, and a real-life Mevo. It’s that small.

Sounding too good to be true? Can FlightScope really deliver on these promises? Read on to find out what we thought in our extensive testing.